By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm
The iPhone 3.0 app goodness continues roll in. An iPhone version of AT&T’s Navigator turn-by-turn GPS driving directions app is live in Apple’s App Store. It’s one of several navigation apps that have already appeared in the week since iPhone OS 3.0′s arrival. (The most eagerly-awaited one, though, is probably from TomTom–and it’s not due until later this summer.)
Navigator is powered by GPS stalwart TeleNav, and worked reasonably well as I used it on my iPhone 3GS while tooling around the Bay Area today. I was worried that it might not work as well as a dedicated GPS handheld, since early scuttlebutt had it that the iPhone 3G had a wimpy antenna. (I spent $150 on TomTom’s Windows Mobile version for my AT&T Tilt phone, and while the software was great the Tilt wasn’t much better at figuring out where it was than I am. And I have a cruddy sense of direction.)
Navigator had no problem keeping up with me even at 60mph. It has decent search for addresses and businesses, live traffic updates, and a bunch of other features that my current GPS system (a five-year-old one built into my Mazda3) lacks. However, it works only in portrait mode as far as I can tell–I wish it also offered a more windshield-mimicking landscape view. And the quality of its spoken directions was surprisingly muffled, which occasionally left me straining to understand them.
If you’re serious about using Navigator or any other GPS application for the iPhone, there’s no doubt that you’re going to want some sort of mounting system that pumps its audio through your car’s stereo and provides power–otherwise, the phone will be too hard to see and too hard to hear, and its battery will be drained in a jffy. Devices of that sort already exist, and TomTom plans to sell one as an option for its software.
AT&T being AT&T, it’s selling Navigator as a service, not a program–typical for phone GPS (although one of the benefits of getting the Palm Pre and paying for Sprint’s $99 voice and data plan is that it comes with driving directions). Navigator is $9.99 a month. I’d really like the option of paying a one-time fee. (Especially since I’m most likely to need this software when I’m on the road for business or pleasure in a rent-a-car.)
Bottom line: Navigator’s not bad, but I’ll wait until TomTom’s out before I decide which GPS application will live on my iPhone. After the jump, a few screens of the AT&T product in action.